Kansas City, MI (December 13, 2006)–The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, which opened on December 2, 2006, is using audio-intensive interactive exhibitions featuring the real-life sounds, stories and experiences that came out of the Great War, to tell its story. SH Acoustics of Milford, CT was the audio designer of record.
“It’s about removing the barrier between the visitor and the evidence so that the experience can be told through the testimony of real people,” said Ralph Appelbaum, principal of Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the exhibit designers for the project. To accomplish this, audio narratives and ambient soundscapes were introduced throughout the exhibit gallery in the form of interactive stations, major multimedia theaters, isolated listening booths, and other types of sound experiences.
With the need to present so many different audio programs in a single open gallery, there was great concern that overlapping sounds, along with the ambient noise of visitors and the building’s mechanical systems, would result in an unintelligible cacophony of sound. To address these sound challenges, the Museum brought in museum sound specialists SH Acoustics (Milford, CT) to work with the design team. Steve Haas, the president of SH Acoustics, has handled audio designs in museums over 18 years. Haas worked with the Museum’s exhibit designers, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, on a number of facilities including the US Holocaust Museum, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the National Constitution Center.
Attention was given to acoustic control in order to tame ambient sounds and equipment noise. SH Acoustics implemented a number of control measures, including the application of special treatments to the gallery surfaces to absorb “stray” sounds, and the silencing of fan noises that could potentially impact audibility for the gallery visitor. Creating a virtual “blank canvas” of sound, SH Acoustics then worked with media producers Donna Lawrence Productions and Second Story Interactive Studios to deliver the audio of the exhibit productions in an immersive, yet controlled manner.
The goal was to introduce solutions for delivering audio that will allow visitors to be captured by the power of the narrations and the presence of the background music and sound effects. Special focusing loudspeakers created by Haas, as well as technologies that allowed for some of the re-created dioramas to generate sound independently, contribute to the listening experience that is part of the Museum’s mission to “bring history to life, and to foster timely discussions of ethics, values, decision making and conflict resolution
National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial